Copyright (C) 1999 by William Mistele.  All rights reserved.

Chapter 3, Psychic Level--Accumulating and Dissolving the Four

The Practice.  The procedure is the same for each of the four
elements.  We relax in a familiar meditation position.  We
concentrate on a distinct sensation for each element which we
perceive as filling the entire universe around us.  We imagine our
body as hollow and we draw the elemental energy into ourselves as
we inhale through our nose and through our pour breathing.       
     Start with seven breaths inhaling the element and then exhale the
element for seven breaths.  You should finish each exercise without
a trace of the element left inside of you.  Increase the number of
breaths by one each time you do the exercise.  Initially do not
practice more then forty breaths and beginners should not practice
for more than twenty minutes.


Magical Equilibrium.  In this step, we learn to accumulate the four
elements in our bodies and to dissolve them at will.  Before we
begin this exercise, Bardon insists that we make significant progress
in developing the magical equilibrium introduced in the first two
chapters.  Our work on magical equilibrium has taught us to
carefully distinguish between the positive and negative side of the
     This self-awareness and internal harmony are essential before
introducing large amounts or unusual energies into our bodies.  The
idea in practicing with the elements is to gradually learn how to
master them.  But if we go beyond our depth, we may become
overwhelmed or confused.  When overexposed to an element in this
way, we may act out of character for a time.  Unduly influenced by
the elemental world, we may be unaware that when we are acting
irrationally or with loss of personal perspective.
     In the normal process of life, we all encounter challenges and
difficulties which are more than we can handle.  But if we remain
positive and use all the resources available to us, we learn to work
with and through them.  Magical training accelerates our encounters
with the unknown.  The training repeatedly tests our abilities, our
strengths, and our core values.  But through the whole process we
strive for clarity of mind and an integrity which is beyond reproach.  
     Magick is not a shortcut.  It is not a way of cutting corners to
gain quick results.  Instead, it is a way of taking full responsibility
for our work in life.  Therefore, a magical training is not just about
mastering one exercise and then moving quickly on to the next.  It is
also about mastering every personal problem which enters our lives.  
     If an individual is easily susceptible to anger, depression,
obsession, sorrow, confusion, fear, and so forth, then as he
increases his exposure to primal energies, out of control emotions
and mental states will also increase in strength.  Consequently,
knowing oneself and developing wisdom should precede the
development of power and control over the elements.

Mental Level Training.  It is also wise to thoroughly master the
mental exercises for this chapter before working extensively with the
four elements in the astral body.  On the mental level, we learn to
concentrate on two or three senses at the same time.  This includes
concentration on objects, locations, animals, and human beings.  
    In effect, the mental level gives us the ability to recall or
reproduce in our mind any memory or imagination as if it is real and
present before us right now.  This extraordinary ability enables us to
call before our consciousness and study anything that influences us. 
Without this power of imagination, we might have great difficulty in
producing the sensations and energies of the elements.  And we
would proceed without being able to distinguish the rich variety of
qualities and experiences contained within the elements.

Further Sugestions

Energy Awareness.  Some individuals may absorb or release energy
at different rates.  You may accumulate energy with seven breaths
but it may take you much longer to dissolve this energy.  Returning
to normal so you no longer feel any trace of the element may take
much more effort.  In this case, you might try imagining your body
as being empty of all energy as you begin exhaling.  
     Sensing Energy Directly.  Try to gain the sensitivity through
which you can sense these energies in your body.  If practicing with
an element has an unusual or unexpected physical, emotional,
mental, or spiritual effect on you, it is very helpful to be able to
observe the energy directly.  For example, if part of your body
becomes hot, tense, or partially paralyzed from working with one of
the elements, slow down your practice.  Break the exercise down
into smaller parts and practice it more gradually until you can sense
why this is happening.  
     There are a vast variety of mental states, ecstasies, feelings,
powers, and dreamlike perceptions which may occur when working
with the four elements.  A magical exercise, as with lifting weights
or jogging, should be used to gradually strengthen ourselves.  It
should also take place with a certain level of comfort.  If you push
yourself too hard, you can reach physical exhaustion and strain your
nervous system.  
     Study exactly what occurs as your practice.  Avoid expectations
and assumptions which tell you in advance what is supposed to
happen.  Keep your observation and assessment of your progress
separate from your desire to advance quickly.  Similarly, do not
force yourself to go beyond your own depths or what your
personality can assimilate.  
     One of the worst human experiences is to feel that something
alien and unknown has invaded your consciousness.  This theme is
often explored by writers such as Ursula LeGuin.  In her book, The
Wizard of Earthsea, a mage in training ties an evocation which is
beyond his ability.  Something appears, but it can not be named. 
And this ancient terror then pursues the magician until he
understands the part it has to play in life.  

Individual Approach.  Some individuals write me about their contact
with elementals before they have finished the first chapter of
Bardon's training.  I think it is fine to read ahead and check out
other exercises.  Some individuals develop an insatiable curiosty
when confronted with a magical system which opens up countless
new vistas of mind, will, and imagination.  In my experience, such
curiosity needs to be balanced with love, wisdom, and practical
applications.  Then it serves a purpose and leads to beneficial
results.  Whatever your approach is in practicing with the elements,
be sure to make moderation and gradual development a life long
     Bardon starts the elemental practice with the fire element.  Fire
relates to will and Bardon possessed an astonishing level of will
power.  Since the four elements go together, you can start with
whichever element you prefer.  You can practice with one element
and then work with a different one in your next training session.  
     In the martial arts, for example, different systems offer different
procedures.  In Aikido, we were constantly practicing unfamiliar and
unexpected movements as we went from one exercise to another. 
This approach has the advantage of forcing the student to focus on
the principles being learned such as remaining focused and moving
from his center.  
     In traditional martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan or Kendo, the
student was taught one movement such as the horse stance, lifting
his arms, or striking down with a sword.  He was then told to go
practice this one thing for six months before being taught anything
else.  This approach also has an advantage.  The student is
introduced to a power within himself which is far below the level of
conscious thinking.  
     Some of the current Oriental masters have also mastered
Western skills in communication, clarity of expression and
explanation.  When they teach, they modify their procedures for the
needs of the group or individuals they are working with.  They have
learned to describe and walk the road that leads between conscious
thought and internal power.  In this approach, the more an
individual understands his own body, feelings, and thoughts, the
more integrated and healthy he will be in the long run.  My point is
that each individual should practice with the four elements in a way
which sustains his personal harmony while also seeking mastery.

Space Awareness.  Some individuals might wish to gradually
explore their awareness of space before imagining filling the entire
universe with a specific energy.   Sense, for example, a three foot
distance around your body.  Imagine that this is your space.  It
relates to your aura. 
     Now sense a larger space, for example, the room where you are
sitting.  Notice the distance from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. 
Close your eyes and visualize this space clearly in your mind.  Now
take a slightly larger space.  Imagine the house or building which
you are in.  Briefly review each room in your mind and then
imagine that the entire house is an open space and you are at the
     Extend this exercise to larger buildings such as an auditorium, a
cathedral, a stadium, a convention center, and large buildings such
as the pentagon.  Again, imagine the entire building and that you are
at the center.   Then take, for example, a valley or plateau between
tall mountains.  Again, develop a clear picture and sensory
awareness in your mind of this open space.  
     Try some larger areas such as a state or province of a country.  
Hold in your awareness this space from one end to the other.  Try
an entire country and then a continent.  Then imagined you have
traveled around the world by plane, balloon, boat, space shuttle. 
Hold the space of the entire planet in your imagination so that you
are aware of its circumference and volume.  Imagine this space is
open and empty

Personal, Transpersonal, Global, and Cosmic

If you visualize and imagine the heat from a fireplace on a cold
winter night, this imagery of fire is familiar and friendly.   If you
visualize a cinder cone in front of you thirty or forty feet across
bubbling and exploding with hot lava, this is more of a transpersonal
image of fire.   It is part of the natural world but something still easy
enough to imagine.  
     But if we go further and imagine miles upon miles of hot magma
at the core of the earth, then this image is more difficult to visualize. 
The energy and power present relate more to the entire earth than to
a specific location and geologic phenomena.  And finally, if we
imagine an explosion which consumes a galaxy or even the Big
Bang--the entire universe exploding and full of fire--then these
images are certainly of cosmic dimension.  
     From working with the cosmic language, Bardon is used to
meditating on the forces which have created the universe--the basic
building blocks of space, time, matter, and energy.  In that practice, 
you do indeed imagine the entire universe filled with one element,
sound, and color of light.  Doing this allows the student's mind to
enter and study one energy and mode of consciousness.  These
cosmic energies, however, are often quite distant from our
experiences in everyday life.    
     Some individuals might find it helpful to practice an element on
all four levels.  In this case, you start with personal imagery and
experiences and then gradually explore the element further moving
from transpersonal to global and then to cosmic levels.  Before
imagining the universe filled with water, you might like to
concentrate and fully capture the sensations of taking a shower or a
bath and floating in a pool of water and then a lake and then the
ocean.  You imagine yourself sinking down and feeling the entire
body of water surrounding you.       
 You want to arrive at the point where you can immerse your
consciousness within the element of water so that nothing else exists
for you.  At this point, it is easy to make the transition from sensing
yourself surrounded only by water to imagining the entire universe is
filled with water.   
     We know our bodies through the many experiences we have
come through in life.  But in Bardon's system, the body is also a
temple and an instrument in the hands of Divine Providence.  If we
are to understand the great creative power which exists within this
temple, it behooves us to study the sensory experiences and the
energies of the elements on all four levels of consciousness.


The Exercise  The fire element has the qualities of heat and
expansion.  Imagine that fire surrounds your body and extends out
to the ends of the universe.  Imagine further that with each breath
you are drawing this fiery heat into your body.  
     As you concentrate, imagine that your body is accumulating so
much fire inside you that you radiate heat to the space around you. 
In the beginning, through force of imagination, sense your body
heating up until you feel warm as if you have a fever.  Then, using
the same number of breaths with which you inhaled, exhale the fiery
heat until you are completely free of any accumulation.  
Commentary.  A few individuals will find this exercise extremely
easy.  They were born with the ability to control fire at will.  They
can melt the snow on a roof during winter if they wish or heat up a
room or cause other individuals to respond to their powers of
suggestion.  For some, fire is a delight to work with.  It is energetic,
bright, dynamic, and full of life.       
     At the other extreme, some  individuals will find that producing a
sensation of heat in their bodies requires many years of practice. 
And should they finally master this fiery energy, they continue to
feel that the fire element is dangerous--there is something menacing
and fearful about it.  The imagery and nature of fire makes them
feel uneasy.   In other words, there are a wide variety of responses
to fire.  Individuals will need to study their practice sessions so that
they are fully conscious of the effects produced.
     It may be helpful to recall your past experiences with fire to
familiarize yourself with its qualities.  Consider the whole spectrum
of bodily sensations in which you experience heat.  Recall, for
example, getting into a hot shower, a hot car, a sauna, a hot tub,
sitting on a beach, walking in desert, sitting beside a bon fire, a
hearth, opening a hot oven, cooking on an outdoor grill, etc.  You
may also have been burnt by fire at one time or another.  You may
have seen a car explode, a house catch fire, or witnessed a forest
fire or a volcanic eruption.  Recapture these experiences so they are
again vivid but also strive to be a detached observer. 
     In my various dialogues with salamanders, there are simple
meditations for learning to reproduce through imagination a sense of
heat.  Tapheth, for example, suggests studying all the basic kinds of
fires which are produced by nature and technology.  For Tapheth,
every kind of fire has a psychology or psychic quality.  
     If you have difficulty producing a sensation of heat through
imagination, try working more on the emotional aspect of fire.  That
is, play with the imagery almost like you are daydreaming or free
associating.  Imagine building a camp fire.  Imagine every moment
and detail of the experience.  Hear the sound of the fire burning dry
leaves and twigs.  Smell the smoke.  Watch the light flicker.  Feel
the heat on your face.  Cook something over the fire and sit down
and eat it.
     If you want to try a more expansive imagine, imagine you are
one of the great salamanders who makes his home within fire.  Take
responsibility for a volcano.  Cause the magma within the earth to
rise.  Break through the surface and create cinder cones and then
huge mountains or entire island chains.  Imagine you have been
doing this for millions of years.
     There is also a human side to the fire element as represented to
some extent in the fire signs in astrology--Aries, Leo, and
Sagittarius.  You might wish to study these signs.  But go further
than this.  Make a study of individuals who embody great will power
and charisma.  Imagine you are these individuals so you feel what it
is like to live as them. 

The Exercise.  The procedure for air is the same as with fire. 
Imagine a vast space around yourself filled with only the air
element.  The sensation is of being weightless, of floating free of
gravity and any external influence.  Inhale this airy feeling of
weightlessness inside yourself.  Imagine with each inhalation that
you are becoming lighter and lighter until you feel you are floating. 
Gravity is completely neutralized.  Then exhale the airy substance
until you are returned to normal.

Commentary.  Again, some students will find this exercise extremely
easy and others will find it extraordinarily difficult.  This airy energy
enables an individual to feel light, relaxed, balanced, at ease, and
harmonious.  It grants a detachment and also an artistic sensitivity to
impressions and curiosity about all that life contains.  
     If you have difficulty producing the sensation of weightlessness,
play with the imagery of air.  Study it like a scientist and appreciate
it like a poet.  Observe the winds and your breathing.  Imagine you
are the wind.   Become the air moving into a leaf as carbon dioxide
and being released as oxygen.  Become the air circulating through
your body as your breathe. 
     Imagine you are a balloon filled with helium released into the air
or that you are walking on the moon.  Imagine you take a trip for an
afternoon in a hot air balloon floating over the countryside.  Imagine
that you are a hummingbird, an eagle, a sparrow, an owl, a pelican,
or a dove.  Notice each bird's way of flying.  
    Imagine you are a cloud, a tornado, a hurricane, a thunderstorm,
the jet stream, or the ozone layer of the earth.  Treat air like a friend
until you know its strengths, weaknesses, and peculiarities.
     When I look out of a jet window at thirty-seven thousand feet, it
is easy for me to fall into a state of ecstasy.  I imagine I am floating
out in the sky high above the earth.  It is easy for me to imagine that
I am a sylph and that I this is my domain and that I have ruled over
the winds for a million years.  
     Such playful detachment as this grants a certain wisdom.  There
is not only a physical, body sensation of weightlessness developed
through imagination and an astral feeling of appreciation and
curiosity for the world.  There is a mental plane detachment
produced as well.  You learn to look at situations from all sides. 
You develop a judicial temperament--you learn to investigate facts
and to weigh all sides and aspects of a situation before arriving at

The Exercise.  Imagine that your body is surrounded by cold water
extending out to the ends of the universe.   Breath this cold, wet
energy into your body in the same way we did with fire and air. 
You can imagine your body becoming so cold it feels like a lump of

Commentary.  If you have developed your concentration of the five
senses on the mental level of this chapter, you can then with ease
visualize snow covered ground, the north pole, an iceberg and feel a
chilling wind and freezing cold water.  On a hot day, I can describe
to another person the snow and ice at the north pole and the words
alone can cause my body to begin to shiver with the cold.  
     The cold sensation helps to increase our awareness of magnetic
fields.  The cold is contracting.  Water, of all substances in nature,
absorbs heat the most quickly and stores it the longest.  Water holds,
contains, and sustains.  
     Flowing water is purifying.  Still water is tranquil and serene. 
The oceans surround the world and bring life into being.  
     To work with water, review all your experiences with all five
senses involving the water element.  I remember the first time I
smelled the ocean.   I remember the first time I floated off shore on
the ocean waves.  I remember the first time I swam underwater by
an ocean reef amid tropical fish.  I recall at age four my boots
breaking through the ice so the water was up to my knees.  I
remember taking a girl on a date in down town Chicago during
winter when the chill of the wind was unbearable as it touched our
     In my stories on undines, I suggest exercises such as placing your
hands in a bowl of water.  You feel the water around your skin. 
Then you imagine you are the water surrounding your hands and
finally that you are both your hands and the water surrounding your
     Undines automatically extend their auras out into the watery
expanse surrounding them.  They relax and identify with the
magnetism within the sea.  Because they are so empathic and
attuned to water, this magnetism responds to their wills.
     You may wish to concentrate on water in this way.  Clear you
mind and imagine a stream of water so that there is nothing else
within your consciousness but the water flowing along.  Become the
stream.  Similarly, become a lake, a cloud, an iceberg, or an ocean. 
Open your heart so that you sense all that exists within this watery
expanse.  The more comfortable and familiar you are with water in
nature, the easier it will be to feel at ease accumulating watery
energy within your body. 
    Note:  Some individuals may wish to enhance their practice with
the sensations of hot and cold by using biofeedback instruments. 
The more relaxed the muscles are, for example, the more blood
flows through the surface of the skin and the warmer the skin
becomes.  There are also instruments you can purchase which
measure one tenth or more minute degrees of temperature on the
surface of the skin.   In this way, by utilizing accurate and
measurable feedback, you can discover when your mental focus is
producing specific changes in body temperature.

The Exercise.  The sensory concentration for the earth element is on
weight and density.  Again, we imagine the entire universe around
us being extremely heavy and dense as if it is composed of an
element such as lead.  As your imagination develops, this sensation
feels nearly paralyzing in effect.  
Commentary.  The earth element offers us a direct sensation and
feeling of being grounded, solid, and enduring.  Working with it we
feel rooted in the earth.  We can a sense of location and place and a
feeling of belonging--the situation and world in which we live feel
real and something to work with in practical and positive ways. 
     Some martial arts work extensively with this sensation of weight. 
In Aikido, the student is taught to focus his weight downward. 
After years of practice, even weightlifters can not budge an Aikido
master who is sitting on the ground.  Similarly, in Tai Chi Chuan,
masters become so rooted to the ground that fifteen men can not
budge them or push them over as they stand relaxed and at ease. 
These feats may seem odd or unlikely but they can be fairly easily
observed if you find a highly developed master.
     If you wish to explore the psychological aspects of the earth
element, you may like to pursue your family history and the history
of your ethnic group and the area where you live.  These studies
give you a sense of where you are in time and why the world is the
way it is.  We define who we are through the choices we make but
we are also a part of a larger society and history.  The decisions
others have made before us create the context where we begin our
journey in life.  
      There is also a transition between personal and transpersonal
when it comes to nature.  Through science and technology, we
harness the resources of our world and use them for practical
purposes.  We mine for coal, oil, and minerals.  We farm and raise
animals.  We use wood and stone to construct our homes and
     But these natural resources have life and energies quite
independent of the way we use them.  A tree is sentient and
possesses telepathic abilities which are easily studied by science
though scientists rarely take an interest in such things.  Minerals
have atomic vibrations which can be studied independently of
physics and chemistry.  An artist may paint a landscape, a forest, or
a mountain but these natural settings also have their own energies.  
     In magical training, we learn to sense the energies within matter
directly through extending our consciousness into them and
heightening our perception.  In my essay on the gnome Mentifil, I
explore the atomic vibration of ten different metals from a psychic
perspective.  In my essay on the gnome Erami, I explore a
meditation used for studying the energies of landscapes.  
     As we imagine a dense earth element surrounding and then being
drawn into our bodies, we are in effect, as with the other elemental
practices, learning to feel and perceive the world as a gnome or as a
divine being.  We are extending our awareness directly into matter
and becoming familiar with its qualities and powers.  There is this
basic sensory concentration to master involving weight and density. 
But there are countless aspects of physical matter we can learn to
sense in the physical world which lies around us.  Druids, for
example, describe different kinds of trees as if the trees have unique
qualities of consciousness.  Those who work with gems may wish to
study the healing properties which are associated with different
     Matter contains a massive amount of energy stored in physical
forms.  The outer world and the inner planes are distinguished in
part by their different degrees of density.  The physical world in
which we dwell has weight, shape, form, and change occurs slowly. 
The inner planes do not possess this degree of stored energy ready
to be harnessed through physical means.  
     In mastering the sensations of weight and density, we are
acquiring an ability to enable dreams, ideals, feelings, and thoughts
on the inner planes to manifest in our world.  Mediums who channel
spirits often provide the energy through which a spirit manifests. 
An individual who wishes to accomplish some spiritual purpose also
needs to provide the energy through which that purpose can take
shape and appear in a stable and enduring way in our world. 
Working with the earth element increases our awareness of how to
bring things into being.  And it gives us a clear grasp of the gulf
separating the inner and outer worlds.

Siddhis, the Four Elements, and the Four Planes.  Bardon mentions
that spending years practicing one element alone may lead to outer
manifestations of magical powers.  With fire you can heat up rooms
and melt snow. With air you can levitate and walk on water.  With
water you can calm storms and control fish.  And typically with the
earth element you can materialize spirits.  Though pointing these
things out, Bardon insists that the student pursue all four elements
equally so that development is not lopsided and off balance.
     After all, there are also psychic aspects to the four elements. 
Fire develops clairvoyance.  Air develops telepathy.  Water develops
clairfeeling and earth develops the ability to extend your influence
directly into other locations. 
     And there are, of course, higher spiritual abilities associated with
working with the four elements.  For example, we can not only
study fire in nature.  We can use fire to internalize divine will within
ourselves.  Air, besides giving us a direct intuitive understanding of
the atmosphere of the earth, leads us to divine wisdom.  Water,
introducing us to the love and sensuality of the undines and the seas,
also introduces us to all-embracing love.  And the earth element not
only contains the knowledge of gnome magicians.  It holds the
mysteries of immortality and the accomplishment of our divine work
on earth.
    As we train with the four elemental sensations, in my opinion, it
is helpful to contemplate the influences of these elements on all four
planes.  We can, for example, concentrate on the fiery sensation of
heat as we attempt to create a physical sensation of warmth and heat
in our bodies. We can take this exact same sensation and explore it
on the astral plane as a feeling of personal strength, of being in
charge, enthusiastic, and energetic. 
    On the mental plane, the fiery sensation increases our sense of
will.  This will is not so personal.  It is more a matter of how to get a
job done so that we overcome every obstacle and master every
difficulty.  And on the akashic or spiritual plane, the fiery sensation
connects us directly to the will of Divine Providence.  In this case,
we no longer think of the divine or of God as being out there
somewhere in the distance.  Fire on the akashic plane is the
substance through which divine will expresses and reveals itself.  To
study this fire is to study omnipotence. 
     At first, it may not be easily apparent how the four elemental
sensations can be related to psychology and ordinary consciousness. 
But there is much to be learned by contemplating and working in a
practical manner with the four elements.  As we do so, we can see
how the various psychologies,  religions, and spiritual training
systems tend to emphasize a few but not all of the elements.  And
they tend to focus on one or two but not all of the four planes.  
     If a religion teaches about divine will, it may at the same time
have nothing to say about how to work with this will through direct
experience.  If it invests certain individuals with authority and power
through its rituals of custom and lineage, it may offer little or
nothing for these individuals when it comes to purifying and
harmonizing their personal wills with the divine will.  
     A magician, then, is a student of all four planes.  He does not
ignore any of the four elements for he sees and understands how
they uphold and support each other.  And since a magicians takes
responsibility for manifesting here on earth the highest divine
purposes, he explores all four planes with equal vigor.  
     He organizes and masters his physical activities.  He masters his
dreams and feelings.  He refines and gains control over his thoughts. 
And he unites his consciousness directly with the divine
consciousness on the akashic plane.  In this way, he attains a great
harmony and wisdom--he understands why things are the way they
are as well as how to change them.